By  on January 14, 2011

WASHINGTON — Textile and apparel imports to the U.S. rose 20.1 percent in November compared with a year earlier, to 4.6 billion square meter equivalents, representing the lowest volume of shipments in five months, the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel said Thursday.

Inventory restocking drove shipments to peak levels from June through October. Apparel imports in November increased 23.9 percent to 2.1 billion SME compared with a year earlier, while textile shipments grew 17.1 percent to 2.5 billion SME.

The nation’s overall trade deficit narrowed slightly to $38.3 billion in November from $38.4 billion in October.

Gregory Daco, senior economist for IHS Global Insight, said, “This should represent the last drop in the trade deficit for 2010, as we expect the trade deficit to widen in December.”

Combined industry shipments from China rose 20.9 percent to 2.1 billion SME — apparel imports advanced 20.7 percent to 862 million SME, and textile imports increased 21.1 percent to 1.2 billion SME. Combined imports from Vietnam advanced 47.9 percent to 258 million SME, as apparel shipments increased 44.2 percent to 176 million SME and textiles rose 56.4 percent to 83 million SME.

India saw shipments rise 24.7 percent to 274 million SME, with apparel growing 24.4 percent to 74 million SME and textiles increasing 24.8 percent to 200 million SME. Combined imports from Bangladesh rose 53.5 percent to 148 million SME, driven primarily by apparel shipments.

Other countries showing major growth in shipments in November were Indonesia, Pakistan, Canada, Honduras and Cambodia.

All the top 10 countries saw increases in November, except South Korea, which saw shipments drop 21.1 percent to 96 million SME. President Obama could soon send the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement to Congress for approval.

According to OTEXA, the top apparel suppliers in November were China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Honduras. China was also the top textile supplier, followed by India, Pakistan, Mexico and Canada.

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